The witching hour season is upon us!
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina finally arrived and introduced us to our new titular witch (Kiernan Shipka) — a half-witch and half-mortal, living in Greendale with her aunts Hilda (Lucy Davis) and Zelda (Miranda Otto) and cousin Ambrose (Chance Perdomo), who must decide whether she’ll leave her mortal life behind — most notably her boyfriend Harvey (Ross Lynch) and friends Roz (Jaz Sinclair) and Susie (Lachlan Watson) — and fully commit to being a witch.
From the title alone it’s clear that this Sabrina is a far cry from Sabrina the Teenage Witch, but how chilling is it exactly? So funny you should ask, dear witches and warlocks, because here we have a ranking of the episodes — from least to most chilling. And mind you, we’re not talking the “look how cute Sabrina and Harvey are together” kind of chills (but while on the subject, aren’t they so cute together?!?!).
So, to those with a low horror tolerance, beware of what’s to follow… and while we’re at it, beware of spoilers too…
EPISODE 2: (RELATIVELY) NOT *THAT* CHILLING
The Witch Sitch: Father Blackwood (a High Priest of the Church of the Night) advises a questioning Sabrina to go through with her dark baptism, which she apparently doesn’t actually have a say in for unknown reasons — as she overhears Zelda and Hilda discussing. After she and the Weird Sisters (a trio of mean girl witches named Prudence, Agatha, and Dorcas) deal with some jocks who’d been harassing Susie — Sabrina moves forward with her dark baptism, but runs away just as she’s about to sign her name in the Dark Lord’s book when Father Blackwood suggests, in so many words, that she won’t have free will. She narrowly escapes the angry mob that follows her, but it’s clear she’s only safe for the time being. Namely, she’s later called into Principal Hawthorne’s office at school, and the Dark Lord possesses his body, telling Sabrina she can’t beat him because she’s part mortal.
The Chill Factor: Sabrina encountering the Devil itself certainly takes the cake, especially because Principal Hawthorne foams at the mouth, convulses, and takes on a demonic voice while being possessed. Coming in close second? After Susie gets suspended for starting a fight with a group of bully-jocks, Sabrina turns to the Weird Sisters to help her teach them a lesson and leave Susie in peace, basically to set her mind at ease if she leaves to pursue her life as a witch.
Teach a lesson they certainly do, by casting a spell that causes the boys to think they’re making out with the four ladies, when in actuality, they’re making out with each other; Sabrina documents the moment and threatens to release the evidence if they mess with any of the girls at school. That’s all in good fun, but the sisters take things a step TOO far when they hit the lights and haunt the guys with skeletal faces (YIKES). The episode certainly has a number of other spine tingling moments from learning that there might be a witch hunter in Greendale’s midst to the reveal of the ghastly Beast itself, but relatively speaking, even a scaredy cat could get through this episode — without watching through their fingers.
EPISODE 3: CHILLING, BUT STILL REVVING UP
The Witch Sitch: Sabrina gets an infernal summons charging her with breach of promise for not going through with her dark baptism, and causing Hilda and Zelda to be stripped of their powers. Ambrose suggests Sabrina seek out Daniel Webster — a mortal who’s successfully practiced witch law — to defend her and he (eventually) agrees, showing up at the last minute to prove her innocence. In the roller coaster of a trial, we learn Sabrina’s warlock father Edward signed her name in the Book of the Beast, with Zelda standing by, when she was just a baby as part of a deal that allowed him to marry his mortal wife Diana. But, Sabrina’s mother, with Hilda at her side, baptized Sabrina in the Holy Mother Church of Greendale, just before the book signing. In effect, Sabrina successfully evades punishment and retains her mortal life on the condition that she goes to Academy and attends weekly Black Mass. Full powers are restored to the Spellman family, too; though, Hilda is excommunicated from the Church of the Night for aiding Diana in the baptism.
The Chill Factor: Sure, Sabrina technically won in the end, but the Devil, Father Blackwood, and co. aren’t to be trusted, as we see when Father Blackwood and Miss Wardwell get together after the trial. He boasts about his victory, but she maintains that “real corruption” is a subtle blade and that she plans to go after Sabrina’s mortal friends a little bit at a time. And the games and tricks don’t end there. Earlier in the episode, we see Miss Wardwell shapeshift into Webster’s dead daughter, in a gruesome and bloody state, telling him not to waste his time on Sabrina’s case.
The “daughter” later reveals herself to Sabrina in an unsettling vision and, one thing leads to another, but we learn that she was killed by one of Webster’s clients, whom he helped set free as part of the Devil’s trick to make him the best lawyer, who only gets cases of the damned. (So yeah, that’s what happens when you make a deal with the Devil.) Oh, and then there’s the reveal, via a very claustrophobia-inducing flashback, that Harvey spotted the Beast while playing hide and seek in a mine as a child, and was trapped down there for five hours; and now, Harvey’s abusive father is forcing him to work down there — and that certainly doesn’t end well…
EPISODE 9: PRETTY CHILLING
The Witch Sitch: Harvey’s brother, Tommy, returns when Sabrina resurrects him from the dead after a mine collapse, but it’s clear that he’s not himself; and neither is Agatha, whom Sabrina sacrificed (but brought back to life using her aunts’ special soil) as part of the resurrection ritual. Hilda (and later, Zelda) catches wind of what’s transpired, and reveals that the Grim Reaper won’t stop until a body returns to it to restore the balance. Still, Sabrina thinks she can fix things by crossing into mortal limbo and retrieving Tommy’s soul — and she does just that, with “help” from Miss Wardwell, but the Soul Eater gets him before they’re able to make it out, leaving her with the single option of telling Harvey who she is and what actually happened to his brother. Needless to say, he doesn’t take it well, and breaks up with Sabrina and kills “Tommy.”
The Chill Factor: For one thing, there’s Tommy and Agatha’s conditions to consider, thanks to Sabrina messing with what might very well be the most dangerous form of magic. Tommy is completely uncommunicative and won’t sleep or eat, and the latter has to do with the fact that he’d snacked on the other fallen miners (meaning, it’s only a matter of time before he gets hungry for human flesh again). Agatha, meanwhile, coughs up dirt and turns greener and greener by the day, looking like the walking dead. Then there’s mortal limbo — a woods-like area covered in fog, with ghostly figures walking around — to be freaked out about, especially because if one thing goes wrong, Sabrina could be trapped there F-O-R-E-V-E-R. Thankfully that doesn’t happen, but watching her walk through the mystical spot with the Soul Eater looming nearby is pretty unsettling. Still, this episode is really about the consequences of her magic and the end of her relationship with Harvey, and while we should all firmly believe that love is dead, it’s not exactly totally terrifying.
EPISODE 1: A CHILLING START
The Witch Sitch: We meet our new Sabrina in the days leading up to her 16th birthday and dark baptism. Throughout the series opener, she grapples with that choice, asking whether her desire keep her powers should come at the cost of losing her boyfriend, friends, and mortal life at large. Along the way, she encounters a series of magical forces, good and bad, trying to influence her choice, which she’s about to make by episode’s end after consulting a Malum Malus (aka an apple that gives knowledge) when Father Blackwood first enters the picture, trying to persuade her to commit to the Dark Lord.
The Chill Factor: As if Father Blackwood’s long and pointed fingernails, beady and lifeless eyes, and overall manipulative demeanor aren’t enough to give you the creeps, there are a whole slew of magical and mischievous forces at work as Sabrina tries to choose the path of light or night. For starters, Sabrina’s teacher Miss Wardwell encounters a distressed girl in the middle of the road late at night who, as it turns out, is actually a plotting witch who uses her magic to stab Wardwell in the neck with scissors (OUCH) and assume her body to stay closer to Sabrina and convince her to sign her name in the Dark Lord’s book; on top of that, Wardwell 2.0 brings a scarecrow to life to stop Sabrina from picking the Malum Malus — which, BTW, showed Sabrina a red-colored vision of lifeless witches hanging from a tree, and a ram-like monster?!?! (UM, NO THANK YOU.)
Not only that, but there’s a horrifying scene that makes Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets look tame in which Sabrina and Ambrose cast a spell, causing hundreds of spiders to attack the arachnophobic Principal Hawthorne so he’ll take time off school, allowing Sabrina to create a women’s support group. (Which, BTW, the antagonism against women at Baxter High is terrifying in its own way…) All in all, it’s a pretty, ahem, chilling start for everyone’s favorite teen witch. But again, it’s just the start, and there are so many more chills and thrills ahead.
EPISODE 10: A VERY CHILLING END
The Witch Sitch: In the season ender, Miss Wardwell unleashes the Greendale 13 — 13 witches who were sacrificed as a means to appease the mortal blood lust following the witch trials in Salem, and could’ve been saved but their fellow witches, including the Church of Night ancestors, didn’t risk it — to call upon the Red Angel of Death and get their revenge on Greendale. Father Blackwood tells the coven to get together at the Academy that night and use their combined magic to protect themselves. Sabrina, Hilda, Ambrose, and Zelda essentially do the same thing for the mortals by conjuring up a tornado to get the town to head to the designated shelter of Baxter High, and casting a protective spell to keep the undead witches at bay.
One thing leads to another and Wardwell tells Sabrina she’ll have to go on the offensive if she wants to save the mortals, but that she’ll need to sign her name in the Book of the Beast (full circle!) to come into all her powers. So she signs her name, and casts hellfire on the Greendale 13, causing them and their avenger to vanish. By episode’s end, Sabrina decides to keep away from Harvey, Susie, and Roz (who all know she’s a witch at this point, BTW) to protect them, and we see Miss Wardwell telling a captive Principal Hawthorne that the prophecy is that Sabrina should rule at Satan’s side — but she’s trying to make it so that Sabrina replaces her as the Devil’s foot soldier.
The Chill Factor: Um, hi, the vengeance of betrayed witches is enough to send anyone running for cover — especially since this seems to be the one thing that truly scares the witches we’ve come to know throughout the season. NOT TO MENTION, Sabrina gives up her freedom to (finally) sign her name in the Devil’s book, but before she does, the Beast itself — with its claws and trickery — appears to her, making sure she understands that she’ll be at its beck and call. Sure, the powers it gives her work in her favor this go around, but who knows what the Devil will require of her down the line.
And who knows what Miss Wardwell will do to make sure the prophecy isn’t fully fulfilled. She plays her part so well, acting like Sabrina’s mentor to get her to sign her name, that (sometimes) it’s easy to forget her intentions. But when she ultimately rips off her face to reveal the grotesque Mother of Demons lying underneath and eat Principal Hawthorne, and kills her trusty familiar with the snap of a neck that comes as easily as the snap of fingers, it’s clear exactly how vicious she is — and that Sabrina, who’s essentially putty in her hands at this point, should look out in season 2.